My Family’s Favorite Green Beans

I’ve been doing a fair amount of nervous-anxious-comfort eating lately. Here’s what that looks like:

Gee, that doughnut sure looks good. And so does that cupcake. Hey! You got your doughnut on my cupcake! And you got your cupcake on my doughnut! Nothing left to do but eat the whole dang mess…

It’s fifty shades of ugly. For sure.

Things came to a head the other night when I sat down next to A. on the couch with my Dignity Droppin’ Dessert du jour and he looked over and actually started laughing. Out loud.

I, of course, responded in the only way possible – with preemptive aggression: “What?!?!”

He, of course, responded in the only way possible – with a life-saving change of subject: “Uh, I just read something funny online. Have you heard this joke about the fiscal cliff?”

Well played, my friend. Well played.

So, you know, it occurred to me that it may be time to start getting some more veggies into my diet. And then I discovered this recipe.

Let’s just say that when you can get a chicken nugget-shoving, cupcake-pounding, queso fundido-funneling girl to look forward to eating fresh green beans, you’re doing something right.

The idea is to char the whole beans in a screaming hot skillet, then toss them with a light and lovely Harissa sauce. It is such a wonderful alternative to the heavy, cream of mushroom soup-laden green beans that we’re all expected to eat this time of year. You might want to considering switching things up at the Thanksgiving table, green bean-wise.

These green beans are now a staple in my diet.
These green beans have kept my dignity from droppin’.
These green beans are an absolutely luscious alternative to heavy sides and typical green bean dishes; take it from me and my salvaged self-respect that it’s worth considering working them into your side dish repertoire as soon as possible.

Charred Green Beans With Harissa

recipe adapted from Bon Appétit

Chef’s Note:  I will almost never comment on safety precautions when posting a recipe of any kind, as I assume that anyone undertaking any recipe posted on my blog is familiar with basic culinary safety techniques and best practices. In this case, I’m opting to make an exception:  in order to properly prepare these beans, you’ll need to heat a large cast iron skillet over an extremely high flame. In fact, your skillet should be so hot that it should be just about to start smoking. I simply recommend that you work carefully with such a hot, heavy vessel, and keep all small creatures out from under your feet while working, just to prevent any unfortunate accidents.

2 red bell peppers, charred, peeled, stemmed and seeded
2 jalapeños, charred, peeled, stemmed and seeded
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt plus more for seasoning
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp. coriander, ground
1/4 tsp. cumin, ground
black pepper, freshly ground
1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed

Combine pepper flesh, chiles, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl, to make a coarse paste. Pulse in 1 tablespoon of oil, lime juice, coriander, and cumin. Season Harissa with salt and black pepper.

Place beans in a medium bowl; drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and black pepper and toss to coat. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Working in batches, cook beans, turning occasionally, until blistered and charred in places but still crisp-tender, approximately 6–8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with Harissa. Serve warm or at room temperature.

YIELD:  approximately 4-6 servings


  1. 18

    Mary says

    OK – guilty as charged! I’ve done that soup and green bean thing so many times I can’t even count them. Thank you for the inspiration – no the order! – to make a change! Happy Thanksgiving, Scarletta!

  2. 17


    If only I could talk my family out of the cream of mushroom soup variety for Thanksgiving. Sigh.
    On another note, I plan to try these at my next queso fundido-funneling party… you know, as a side :)
    Happy Thanksgiving, Meagan!

  3. 15


    I was laughing when I read this because that has so been me. I was up at 3am eating saltines. It’s ridiculous! Anyway, love the beans they look great!

  4. 14


    I have to laugh at this post Meagan because I JUST wrote about stress eating one post ago on my site – I was in the same exact rut!

    lol I used a Shrimp Primavera to knock me out of the cycle and get some veggies in me, and I approve of your green beans strategy as well :)

  5. 11


    These look delicious! I think to simplify things a bit (and avoid a super hot cast iron skillet, which will surely lead to my once a year burn), I will roast the green beans and then toss them with the Harissa. Have you tried roasted green beans? I’m slightly obsessed.

    • Meagan says

      FANTASTIC (and much safer) idea, Heather! You could even throw on the broiler if you wanted to get some of that lovely char action…

    • Meagan says

      I feel you. But the flavor coming out of this particular Harissa is worth giving it one more try; you can be super-safe, too, by simply omitting the jalapeños or substituting one poblano chile, prepared in the same fashion as you would the jalapeños. That would surely yield a Harissa that you can hang with.

  6. 3


    mmmmmmm I have had these before but yours look 10 times better…so happy to have the recipe now! I am Italian and we do our italian green beans or “funeral” beans all year round’ but they are especially abundant on thanksgiving and christmas. Its green beans mixed with homemade bread crumbs, fresh italian herbs, salt, pepper, grated parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Bake it off in the oven and bada-bing! Soooooooo good!

    • Meagan says

      I just learned about funeral potatoes and funeral beans recently, and not from my über-Italian husband! Your family’s version of funeral beans sounds seriously good – bada-bing, INDEED.


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